Independence Day 2015
I love America. I’m currently planning a road trip from Niagara to New York this Summer. But for me, Independence Day in the UK far too often turns into a yeehawing, dose-doing, stetson-topped fiasco filled with soggy nachos, greasy burgers and people convincing themselves they actually like grits. So here are my suggestions for a fantastic, bourbon and barbecue-filled day. No dose-doing required.
Barbecue Shack, Brighton
If you’re joining the Bucket and Spade brigade down to Brighton for the weekend, you won’t find better barbecue than at the World’s End pub on London Road. Back in 2011, Jay Rayner gave the Barbecue Shack in this rather grotty Brighton pub a glowing review, and the following weekend the place was stuffed to the rafters. Since then, things have calmed down a little, but the pub continues to serve meltingly delicious barbecue from this unassuming local boozer. The chef, John Hargate, learnt his trade in Texas and has won several barbecue titles. I’d always recommend getting plates of meat and sides to share – the brisket and ribs are particularly good. Don’t be tempted to order a plate to yourself though. They’re gigantic.
The Hawksmoor Spitalfields bar is a glamorous, subterranean den, sumptuous with leather and the brand’s trademark 1930’s decor. This Saturday, they’re hosting a 4th July party complete with reduced-price cocktails and enough Woodford Reserve to get Kenny Rogers plastered. Yes, there’s the obligatory Bruce Springsteen soundtrack, but my love for bourbon and Hawksmoor’s cocktails means I’ll happily belt out Born In the USA once or twice.
Five Guys, Covent Garden
When Five Guys launched on Independence day a couple of years ago, it was to a flurry of excitement, press reports of ‘burger wars’ and one heck of a long queue up Long Acre. Since then, they’ve gone on to open dozens of high-profile sites, and their popularity is only increasing. It’s tricky to find a more American burger joint if you tried. Red and white diner-style decor, the rather large ‘little hamburgers’ and consistently cheery staff make Five Guys a great place for a 4th July lunch.
American Beer Festival, Strongroom Bar
America is renowned for producing some fantastic, hoppy beers, and transatlantic brewers such as Brooklyn, Flying Dog and Anchor Brewing are becoming commonplace in UK pubs. If, like me, you love a good hop, then you should head across to the American Beer Festival at the Strongroom Bar on Old Street. Entry is free, plus there’s a Texas barbecue, live music and a bucking bronco. They recommend trying your hand at this before you try your hand at the beer…